Like all good superheroes, my Jeffsy has a tragic origin story. It starts with a violent car crash. It was a Saturday in early winter. Both my little girls were in the back of my 1991 Mercedes 190e. We were waiting at a light when a Suburban rear ended us doing 50 mph. The Mercedes was crumpled at both ends, but it took the hit like a faithful guardian. The brave sedan sacrificed itself to protect me and the girls.
With my head dazed and the girls still crying, my thoughts turned to my other vehicle, a 1972 VW bus. We all loved riding in the bus. If the weather had been 10 degrees warmer we might have been in the bus. I had daily driven it for 18 years.
I thought I would drive that bus forever, and in that moment I fell completely out of love with it. I knew that if the bus had been hit like that the result could be deadly. I sold the bus and bought a used Audi, with money left for a new bike.
I was so out of touch with trail bikes, I thought seat bags were still
This would be the first new trail bike I’d bought since ‘98 so I needed a recommendation. I made one phone call to my friend James and asked him which bike I should get. His response was immediate.
“ Tim what you need is a YT Jeffsy, I’ve got a Capra, but you'll want the Jeffsy” James knew how I like to ride, James is a friend from the freeride chapter of my life.
To help explain why I love the Jeffsy so much it might help to know me and what kind of rider I am. Most importantly I learned how to ride bikes, and then I never stopped. I broke my collar bone jumping over a dirt pile on a Kmart bmx bike. That lead into a decade of riding vert ramps and doing freestyle tricks on heavy 20” bikes with pegs.
At eighteen I left home and moved to Colorado where I bought a rigid mountain bike with cantilever brakes. This lead to a decade of riding singletrack in Crested Butte and Bend, OR. I rode a steel hardtail until the downtube snapped from fatigue. About that time a new thing called freeride happened, and I was all in. For over a decade I was all in. I bought $800 dirt jumpers and rode in jeans and a t-shirt. I rode street, dirt jumps, bikeparks, and skateparks. When I broke another collar bone jumping over a dirt pile, I started to miss riding trail. I missed the singletrack, climbing to the tops of mountains, and being in shape. Also I noticed trail riding bikes had changed since I’d been away. That’s when Jeffsy came into my life. It was my first bike with a carbon frame, dropper post, 1X drive and 29” wheels, I had never ridden anything like it and yet it felt as comfortable as anything I had ever ridden. It's the best parts of a freeride bike combined with the best parts of a trail bike.
My Jeffsy does it all, from single track above treeline to dirt jumps and slopestyle. You know what I do to convert it from trail to park? I take the spare tube off the frame.
2023 will be the fifth season for this Jeffsy. Most of my riding buddies have been through several bikes in that time. I’ve done all my own maintenance* so at this point I’ll give a rundown of what it takes to maintain a 2018 carbon trail bike. I ride a lot of steep, loose trails, so this bike chews through tires and brake pads. About two sets each season, and it's on it's third drivetrain set.
I discovered one weird issue with the brakes. I was working on it in the shop replacing my brake fluid after I’d had the bike for a while. My friend, the shop owner, said something didn’t quite feel right. I squeezed the rear brake on and he loosened the mounting bolt to the YT Thirstmaster water bottle cage. As soon as the bolt loosened I could feel pressure rush through the brake line. The special cage that was built for the bike actually pinched the line a little. I added some washers under the cage and the problem was solved.
The first major repair was the rear wheel. I routinely trued the wheels and checked spoke tension, but my back wheel had taken some pounding. One day I was riding slopestyle and I heard a ‘sproing’ as a spoke let go coming into a jump.
I rode it out, then checked the wheel to find that the spoke had pulled through the rim. E13 warrantied the rim and sent me a new hoop. I bought a set of spokes and assembled the new parts on my old hub. My hand built wheel is still strong and round.
Another great company to deal with is RaceFace. I started having a little play in my crank arms even with the bolt tightened and asked them about it. A tech explained that my crank had gone out of warranty, but he had a set of arms laying around he could send me to fix my problem anyway!
I learned how to replace the seals and oil in both shocks for basic service, but eventually my rear shock lost all rebound control and I had to leave it with the pros at Dirtlabs. They explained that some internal valve parts had shattered from "use beyond the intended limits." I spoke with the tech and told him I dirt jump this trail bike, he said he could tell.
I had never built a wheel, bled brakes or serviced a shock before my Jeffsy. But I knew that was the deal with a direct to consumer bike. I would need to take responsibility for maintenance. I've always done my own maintenance, but this was my most complicated bike yet. Most recently I replaced all the pivot bearings and slipped in a new cable and housing. So this Jeffsy is ready for a new season.
So we'll see, maybe I'll be doing a ten-year update on this bike. German machinery is pretty legendary for lasting a long time. Mercedes Benz offers special grille medallions when cars reach high mileage milestones. Maybe YT could have special frame stickers for bikes that survive ten seasons.